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Transportation News Technology

Drone Guides Fuel Shipment to Alaskan Town 140

pigrabbitbear writes with an excerpt from an article at about a non-evil use for unmanned aircraft: "Ask anyone in Nome, Alaska right now how they feel about surveillance drones and you'll likely get unequivocally high praise. Had a remotely-piloted surveillance aircraft not been monitoring Bering Sea ice flows over the past week an emergency shipment of 1.3 million gallons of oil may not have reached the iced-in, snow-drifted town as soon as it did. ... The drone, which was launched from Nome's shores by University of Alaska – Fairbanks Geophysical Institute researchers, isn't the sort of eye-in-the-sky most often associated with the U.S.'s various hulking, 40-foot wing-spanning reconnaissance planes ... The Aeryon Scout micro unmanned aerial vehicle resembles a 'smoke detector with wings and legs,' according to the Anchorage Daily News, and is part and parcel of a rapidly expanding fleet of mid- to micro-sized sky robots being flown domestically for all manner of tedious or risky intelligence gathering gigs."
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Drone Guides Fuel Shipment to Alaskan Town

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  • Great! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by jhoegl ( 638955 ) on Monday January 16, 2012 @07:57PM (#38719636)
    I guess Iceroad Truckers had the month off.
    I thought they would drive through anything including snow drifts. I am so disillusioned. :(
  • by tomhath ( 637240 ) on Monday January 16, 2012 @10:19PM (#38720686)
    One of my favorite stories, I think from Farley Mowat, is about a group of sociologists who were studying people in remote fishing villages accessible only by small boat along the coast of Newfoundland. One elderly woman they talked to had never in her life been away from the town where she was born. She'd never heard of New York City; they tried to describe it to her - millions of people living in buildings hundreds of feet tall. In response she shook her head and thought out loud "I can't imagine why so many people would want to live so far away from everything".

    I fail to see the reason why I would want to live there.

    You and than old woman are the same...

  • by wisebabo ( 638845 ) on Monday January 16, 2012 @11:53PM (#38721220) Journal

    So here's a question for the skilled do it yourselfers in the slashdot crowd.

    I figure that one of those "micro-drones" only use a few(?) watts of power right? How much does the Parrot quad copter use?

    Well, could you (sorry, not me, unfortunately I don't have the hacking skills :( attach a solar panel facing DOWN on one of those drones and then affix a little infrared LED on the drone. A modest ground based telescope would track the LED and continuously point a medium(?) powered laser at the solar panel. (That's one place where the hacking comes in, to have a motorized base track the drone and to provide safeties in case the laser lost "lock").

    Voila! As long as the drone stays in line of sight of the base (and as long as power doesn't give out) you've got a modest little perpetual aerial surveillance platform. Can lasers of the requisite power/frequency be purchased without too much of a headache from the authorities? Can small drones fight gusts and high winds so that they'll stay up most of the time?

    This reminds me of the floating "golden eyes" used by Larry Niven as surveillance tools in his novels. Someone in Japan made a spherical drone that did this but I think it could only stay up for 10 minutes on one battery charge. If the solar cells were light enough/laser was powerful enough perhaps that drone could be used.

    Is the visible/infrared the best part of the spectrum to use? Would a maser (with microwave power receiver) be better in terms of efficiency or safety?

Did you hear that two rabbits escaped from the zoo and so far they have only recaptured 116 of them?